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Assam EVM row: Presiding officer suspended; repoll ordered
Guwahati, April 2, 2021
The Election Commission on Friday ordered repoll at a polling station in Southern Assam after the electronic voting machine (EVM) was found in a BJP candidate's wife's vehicle on Thursday evening.
The EC said in a statement that the presiding officer and three other officials have been placed under suspension and a repoll has been ordered at the Indira M. V. School polling station under Ratabari Assembly constituency in the state.
"Although the seals of the EVM were found intact, it has nevertheless been decided to do a repoll at the Indira M. V. School polling station as added precaution," the statement said.
The Commission also sought a report from the Special Observer about the incident.
The statement said that after the official car carrying the polled EVM machine to Karimganj broke down, the polling officials boarded a passing private car which was subsequently surrounded by a mob of about 50 people that started pelting stones at them.
The mob at Kanaishil (under Karimganj district) alleged that the EVM was being taken to be tampered with. The private car was owned by the wife of BJP candidate of the neighbouring Patharkandi constituency, Krishnendu Paul.
The statement added that, due to the heavy rains on Thursday night and the roads being muddy, the official car of the polling personnel broke down and then they boarded a private vehicle along with their polled EVM and other materials without checking the ownership of the vehicle.
Immediately after receiving information about the incident, the District Election Officer of Karimganj along with the district Superintendent of Police (SP) rushed to the spot and reached there at 10.20 p.m. on Thursday night. During the course of the stone pelting, Karimganj SP Mayank Kumar sustained minor injuries on his collarbone and blank firing had to be resorted to disperse the mob.
The first polling officer, who was found missing in the commotion, was rescued early on Friday morning from a nearby area.
About the incident Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in a tweet said : "Every time there is an election video of private vehicles caught transporting EVMs show up. Unsurprisingly they have the following things in common: The vehicles usually belong to BJP candidates or their associates. The videos are taken as one off incidents and dismissed as aberrations. The BJP uses its media machinery to accuse those who exposed the videos as sore losers."
Over 77 per cent of the 73,44,631 voters exercised their franchise in the second phase of polling in Assam on Thursday in 39 constituencies. Of the three-phase elections to the 126-member Assam Assembly, the third and final phase of polling will be held for 40 seats on April 6.
Nearly 80 per cent of 81,09,815 voters cast their votes on March 27 in the first phase of polling in 47 constituencies. The results will be declared on May 2.